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Late 1980's Stand-up Comedy at its finest
This basically cannot be found anywhere - if you have a copy, consider yourself lucky.
Fred Stoller, the late Drake Sather, Andy Kindler, the late Warren Thomas and Ray Romano are freaking hilarious in this stand-up special.
Stoller's routine (who went on to big success as a comedy writer) had me rolling on the floor.
Andy Kindler's musings about an old hack comic in the Catskills is pure gold: "they canceled the #@&*ing week on me.".
Shame on HBO for not releasing the Young Comedians Specials on DVD.
This is late 1980's stand-up at its finest. Classic, classic stuff.
Please HBO - release this on DVD !!!!
Tobe Hooper & tight O'Bannon Script & Steve Railsback = Pretty Darn Good
Just fired the DVD up for the first time in years, and I have to say this one holds up well. Sure, it's pure cheese all the way, but it's high quality cheese.
Of course, this movie is most renowned for the fact that an absolutely stunning little hottie named Mathilda May spends - seriously - the entire film in the full frontal buff. That's kinda too bad, since there's a tight little sci-fi horror flick going on here.
Some high quality Hooper scares, plus a nice array of pre-digital special effects, including corpses that shrink down to bones and combust into dust before your eyes.
And watching Manson-eyed Steve Railsback (this time as a Stunt Man blonde) chewing up scenery always makes for a good time. Added for good measure are top flight Brits Peter (Red Ryder) Firth and Frank Findlay.
Unfairly lambasted by critics upon release, and vastly under-appreciated by sci-fi horror fans. Sure, it's silly, but its fun/clever silly, and it's light years superior to most of the sci-fi horror crap that's being churned out today.
Oh yeah, did I mention Mathilda May?
The Dark Backward (1991)
Okay, We'll Take the Accordian Player
Easily one of the strangest flicks ever - think Eraserhead meets Lenny. Dark and twisted, equal parts bizarre character study, buddy flick and flat out black comedy. If plot and narrative are your bag, look elsewhere.
And even though the movie features Judd Nelson, fear not, for it's Bill Paxton who steals the bacon here, providing the most laughs since Kelly LeBrock turned him into a human pile of dung.
Difficult to find, especially since it has not been released on DVD (a commentary track would be ever so interesting), and never appears on cable - but definitely worth a 90 minute investment for fans of twisted cult films.
George, and Jaeckel, and Prine, Oh My !!
When I was 10 years old, I saw this at the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena, and recall being absolutely terrified. Just watched it on DVD (unfortunately, the transfer is poor) - while I can't really say that the film has held up all that well, fans of the genre (70's nature gone berserk flicks) can do a lot worse.
When made, this was an obvious attempt to quickly capitalize on the Jaws craze. But whereas Jaws gave us the trio of Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfus, Grizzly gives us George, Jaeckel and Prine. In some circles (concentric mostly) the latter blows the former away.
In his last memorable film role, Christopher George plays the Scheider character, this time a forest ranger named Kelly (not to be confused with DeForest Kelly), trying to stop "18 FEET OF GUT CRUNCHING MAN EATING TERROR" that has been feasting on campers, park rangers (both clothed and unclothed), horse heads and little boy arms. And for my money, I'll take Richard Jaeckel over Dreyfus any day - another underrated actor who never got his due. And speaking of which, there is also Andrew Prine, who is still with us, but is seen way too little these days.
Anyway, lots of innocent bystanders become bear chow in various ways (*Parents: Warning - children in peril scenes abound), but the good guys win in the end, as the dimensions of the beast are reduced to "18 INCHES OF FLAMING PUDDLED FUR". Decent cinematography, including some cool aerial shots. Filmed on location in Georgia.
American Me (1992)
Packs an Emotional Wallop
This almost qualifies as the "Goodfellas" of Mexican Mafia movies, although it lacks the humor and character development that make the violence wrought by Scorsese's goons somewhat palatable.
Not for the weak of heart, this is one of the more daring works of early 90's American cinema. Violent, ugly and (allegedly) based on true events, the film yanks you into a world that lifelong residents of Los Angeles (like me) have never seen. The film starts with the L.A. zoot suit riots of the 1940's as a backdrop (Olmos portrayed "El Pachuco" in the stage and screen versions of "Zoot Suit"), and chronicles the rise and fall of Santana (Olmos) who, along with his boyhood "crime partners" (the always good William Forsythe and Pepe Serna), becomes the overlord of the Mexican prison mafia.
From the get go, the viewer is yanked down to the violent streets of East Los Angeles, then it's on to Folsom State Prison for some of the most brutal prison sequences this side of "Runaway Train."
This film has its critics - some lambaste the acting as second rate, and some view the dialog as corny (the poetic voice over by Olmos worked for me). Personally, I noticed none of this. I regard this as a very important film that deserves to be seen, now more than ever.
Not quite Scorsese, but light years better (and more socially relevant) than the "Penitentiary" movies. Those who can stomach the brutality will be richly rewarded with a film experience not easily forgotten.
Helter Skelter (2004)
Made Steve Railsback Look Like Olivier
After watching the "remake" of Helter Skelter last night, I can't wait to pop in the far superior 1976 television version tonight. Bruno Kirby was not believable as Bugliosi, nor was Jeremy Davies as Manson, whereas their respective 1976 counterparts, George DiCenzo and Steve Railsback, nailed these difficult parts dead-on, virtually defining their real-life counterparts in the process.
This newer version actually shows the murders, whereas the original did not - whether this is an improvement or not is a matter of preference. The new version also spends some time developing the characters of the murder victims, another aspect lacking in the original.
The new cast tries hard, but no dice. The superlative performances in the original make this remake pale in comparison. By the way, the chick who played Susan Atkins in the original turned in one of the most chilling television performances ever - whatever happened to her and why have I never seen her in anything else? But I digress...
This new version struck me as though it had been slapped together rather quickly. Attempting to cram a complex piece of history into 3 hours (with commercials) does not work. I kept thinking I was watching Part I, and all of a sudden a bogus "American Graffiti" type written conclusion appears on the screen. The new version barely touched the trial, whereas the trial scenes accounted for a good chunk of the chills in the original.
Helter Skelter did not need to be remade unless someone was going to do it right. Where have you gone, Steve Railsback?
City of Industry (1997)
A Great Guy's Flick
In my book, this is one of the overlooked action classics of the 1990's. With solid production values and a top notch cast, and set against a sunny and seedy Los Angeles backdrop, this fast-paced story of desperate criminals driven by greed and revenge is the perfect vehicle for "Guy's Movie Night."
Harvey Keitel is at his best as Roy Egan, the hardened career criminal bent on avenging a double-cross by former partner-in-crime, Skip Kovich (played by Stephen Dorff, in his best performance ever). Also along for the ride are Timothy Hutton, the late Wade Dominguez ("Dangerous Minds"), and a very sexy Famke Janssen. As if this weren't enough, this movie is notable for providing the only film nude scenes of Lucy Liu (a brief role as Dorff's stripper ex-girlfriend), and Dana Barron (Audry Griswold in the original "Vacation").
Despite its occasional plot holes, this film gets better with repeated viewings. And for fans of what my Manly Man Movie Night associates have deemed "Keiteling" (the mandatory Harvey Keitel emotional and physical meltdown, e.g. the church scene in "Bad Lieutenant") it doesn't get any better than this. However, the film is quite violent, and I have not met many women who like it. Still, "City of Industry" belongs in the collection of any fan of revenge-based action thrillers.